How to Focus Your Brand Voice
Have you found yourself struggling to nail down your brand lately? Or maybe you’re questioning whether or not your publication is becoming everything you imagined. Whatever the case, the key to creating outstanding content is to have a strong brand voice. You may be asking: “But Issuu, what is a brand voice?” A brand voice is your publication and your brand’s sense of self and how it’s expressed in your content. The best way to stand out is by having a strong, unique identity. Here are some tips to help you focus your brand voice.
Nosce te Ipsum (Know thyself)
If Socrates had a magazine, people probably wouldn’t read it. But if Socrates had any advice for those wanting to distinguish themselves as a brand, he would probably grab them by the shoulders, shake them wildly and yell at them to “know themselves”. And he has a point. How can readers expect consistent content from a magazine that doesn’t know who it is or what it stands for?
The first step in developing your brand voice is to do some major self-examination, and decide what you, as a brand, value. Is it a commitment to the avant garde, and to challenge people’s notions? Maybe it’s a dedication to finding the truth, no matter how ugly. What it is is not up to us, but we’re here to help you spread it.
Draft a mission statement
It can be as simple as: “To share cool pictures of flowers with the world.” But then ask yourself, why is it you want to share cool pictures of flowers with the world? Is it to inspire your readers to see the world in a new way? Or maybe to inject a little bit of natural beauty in a difficult and conflicted world. In that case, your mission statement might become: “To share cool pictures of flowers with the world to show people the beauty of our natural world.” Now that you know the why for what you’re doing, how about we tell people why they should care about it? Your mission statement, then, might become: “To share cool pictures of flowers with the world, so as to show people the beauty of our natural world, and to inspire people to care more about the environment.” Defining exactly why it is you write and design and share what you do will help you focus on doing just that.
Go for impact
Don’t shy away from bold statements. These are the ones that will most develop your brand and your voice as a publication. All too often, writers and publications fall between the cracks because there’s nothing separating them from the middle-of-the-roaders. The only solution to this is to not fear big statements. What you should avoid, however, are statements that are bold only for the sake of being bold. Be convicted in what you write. Write what you really feel respectfully, but without fear, and you’ll distinguish yourself.
Weather the storm
Uh oh. So now I’ve written: “flowers are beautiful and if you don’t like them you’re wrong.” I’m getting some pretty angry messages from people who don’t like flowers. Do I roll back my statement and fall back on being conciliatory in order to keep those readers? Or do I connect with the many people who do think flowers are beautiful by standing by what I said? The answer is simple. So long as your statement wasn’t inherently offensive to people, there is no reason why you should take back what you said. You’re in charge of what you publish, and it’s your message. Your readership will respect your commitment to your own cause.
Allow yourself to evolve
Even if you have a firm grasp on your identity as a brand does not mean that that can’t change. As the world around you changes, as you grow as a publication, and develop your voice further, adapt your brand accordingly. So long as you stand by the values you’ve espoused as a brand, your readers will see change as growth, and not a weakness.